Nov 18, 2016

Ten Commandments Tablet

This article in the Daily Mail is one of the better articles on the ancient Ten Commandments tablet that was recently sold at auction.

Nov 17, 2016

God-Centered Applications

"The application should always relate to what God has done, will do, wants done, or instructs people to do. Preaching is not just a process of encouraging people to be nice to one another and live a happy life. The Bible is all about how God works with and through people to accomplish his purposes on earth. God is still at work with his people and still wants them to follow his instructions. He desires a relationship of love and commitment so that his plans will be fulfilled in their lives. The application of a passage should encourage people not to live like the ungodly or non-religious people in our world, but to accept the theological message that God has revealed in his word. The transformation that people need to embrace requires a humble and contrite heart (Ps. 51:17; Isa. 66:2) that is willing to live by the theological principles revealed in Scripture. Although these principles are deeply theological, the application of them should be framed in a practical way that makes common sense. The goal of a message is not to turn the audience into a group of systematic theologians who can explain everything about God. The goal is to help people grow more Christ-like in the practical ways that relate to others so that they reflect God's saving grace."

Gary V. Smith, Interpreting the Prophetic Books: An Exegetical Handbook, Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2014),161.

Nov 16, 2016

The Flow of the Psalms

I have been slowly making my way through O. Palmer Robertson's book The Flow of the Psalms: Discovering Their Structure and Theology (Phillipsburg, PA: P&R, 2015). I created the following table to illustrate Robertson's argument regarding the structure and content of the Psalms.
Book I
(Pss 1–41)
The confrontation between David, Israel’s messianic king and his enemies as he attempts to establish his kingdom.
Book II
(Pss 42–72)
David’s continues to struggle to establish his kingship but also seeks to communicate a message of hope to his enemies.
Book III
(Pss 73–89)
Shifts from David’s struggle to establish his kingship to a corporate concern related  to the devastation of God’s people by international forces
Book IV
(Pss 90–106)
The maturation of perspective on the “permanent dwelling place” and “perpetual dynasty” promised by the Davidic Covenant.
Book V
(Pss 107–150)
The consummation of the kingdom of God

Nov 15, 2016

“Preach the Text, Not the Event”

In his discussion on preaching parables, Steven W. Smith states, “We could so fall in love with the cultural background, the fascination of it all, that we miss the theological point Christ is attempting to communicate, a point that is imbedded in the text of Scripture, not so much the details of the story. A sermon that focuses on the cultural background rather than the biblical context becomes a lesson in first-century culture that falls squarely in the category of interesting but unhelpful. Preach the text, not the event” (Recapturing the Voice of God: Shaping Sermons Like Scripture [Nashville: B&H Academic, 2015], 111).  

This is a good caution though there can be a fine line between a text and the event it records. The recent tendency to focus inordinately on the background in parables might be understandable since parables are one of the more culturally sensitive genres.

Nov 14, 2016

Applying Biblical Narratives

Christopher J. H. Wright provides a great caution against a simplistic application of biblical narratives. He writes.

“But we cannot turn stories about what God did do—stories that indeed do demonstrate what God can do—into blank-cheque promises about what God will do, or must do for you, me, and everyone.” 

Christopher J. H. Wright, How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016), 129.